[1] Rod Stewart, ‘You Wear It Well’

Rod Stewart

Or, ‘Maggie May (Pt II)’. That shouldn’t sound uncharitable – Lord knows there was plenty of mileage left in Rod’s 1971 No.1 even after its six minutes had passed, its pace picking up as it faded, the Faces still sieving gold dust. Here once more, acoustic and electric guitars combine with mandolin to create a rough-hewn folk ambience that, along with Rod’s ever-lived-in voice, basks in an autumn sun. It possesses none of ‘Maggie May”s mean spirits, instead delivering love and cheek – “You wear it well/A little old-fashioned, but that’s all right” – and warm, swinging violin. If anything, it’s more relaxed than its ancestor, breezy and affectionate.

Junior is mildly intrigued that Rod is Nanny’s favourite singer, until she points out, “No one’s singing.” This is the extended intro version from a greatest hits set, bizarrely including ‘Interludings’, the brief pluckings that precede ‘You Wear It Well’ on Never A Dull Moment. They fit, of course, drawing out the stop-starts before the song kicks off all in a rush, as if Rod’s suddenly weary of the shilly-shallying. Junior’s too moody to say anything more, but on a better day she’d bounce with the bonhomie. You could never get bored with this. Tire of ‘You Wear It Well’ and you tire of, well, The Black Crowes. I know, just imagine.

So that was a mere 38 years ago. Next up, a mere no years ago. Now. 2010. THE Top 20 Singles of This Year, coming your way on 29 November (or slightly earlier, and we may republish the 1991 Top 20 first because it’s stuck on the old blog). Clear?

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[13] Faces, ‘Stay With Me’

Faces

There’s never been a satisfactory rule about singles which pop up over the festive period. Look at The Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me’ – No.1 for five weeks over December 1981/January 1982, shifter of a million-plus copies, and where is it in the Official Top 40 Bestselling Singles of 1981? Nowhere. OK, where is it in the Official Top 40 Bestselling Singles of 1982? Er, nowhere. It certainly moved enough units in either year to make an appearance, even if not at the very top, so it must’ve fallen foul of arbitrary cut-off dates.

So here’s our rule in action: ‘Stay With Me’ entered the charts in December 1971, but peaked in January. It goes in the year of its peak. Not that that helps The Human League. Moving on…

Junior likes the guitars, and who wouldn’t? They’re so louche. At about the age of 19, I decided this kind of vagabond rock was the pinnacle of human achievement in the field of cool, and started wearing vintage threads and growing hair and beard like The Black Crowes at almost the exact moment The Black Crowes decided this kind of vagabond rock was the pinnacle of human achievement in the field of cool. Synergy, man.

Today we talked about Rod Stewart’s generosity in keeping his band alive when he was doing nicely enough by himself – but he always was one for gangs – and Junior was pleased to hear that Little Nanny remains his biggest fan. I’m pretty keen on Rod myself. Like Kelly Jones, I’d sacrifice all artistic integrity to have a third of his ruined voice. Anyway, thumb-rating is the theme of this week, and the Faces got two, aloft.

[2] Yazoo, ‘Only You’

More humanity in machines. Even Alf’s nasal, masculine drone finds some emotion, tripping over itself in the later lines, cracking and interrupting itself. It’s a great performance; she finds more rhythm in her tone as the song goes on and Vince ups the tempo as all the feeling comes pouring out. Gives Junior’s old dad a bit of, erm, hayfever.

The girl herself raises her arms in the air and sways them from side to side. This is a reaction I haven’t seen, more typical of Rod Stewart fan during ‘Sailing’ or a Foreigner fan during, well, anything. Junior’s calling ‘Only You’ a soft rock ballad. Hmm. Swap the synths for power chords, and what have you got?

Right. Depeche Mode, Yazoo, the Assembly, Erasure, countless productions/remixes: where’s Vince’s Outstanding Contribution Brit? Sign my petition now.